A Thought Experiment
Such happiness is destroyed when we consider an experiment
(such as the infamous Schrödinger's Cat set-up) where macroscopic outcomes
are made dependent on microscopic states. (From a paper on the measurement
problem in quantum mechanics.)
In trying to view this problem in a more familiar realm, I think
I may have inadvertently stumbled upon a revolutionary understanding of quantum
I imagined a married man, let's call him Mr. Schrödinger, who decides
to surprise his beautiful wife by coming back from a business trip a day early.
As he turns his car onto his street he sees a strange car in the driveway.
He instantly recognizes it as belonging to Mr. Cyanide, his boss. He stops
abruptly a few houses away from home and ponders the situation. He wants to
figure-out exactly what it going on rather than jump to the wrong conclusion.
He knows that Cyanide is not only handsome and successful but also a notorious
womanizer. But that alone doesn't mean that his wife is sleeping with him;
after all, maybe Cyanide stopped by for some innocent reason.
Schrödinger's thoughts turn to his wife, Katrina (Kat), whom he has
never suspected of being unfaithful. In fact, according to her mother, it
was only his persistent courting that persuaded Kat away from the convent.
But, nonetheless, he has noticed that Kat is quite impressed with Mr. Cyanide.
So what is going on, Schrödinger wonders? "Is it a harmless visit,
or is that bastard in there fucking my wife?"
It was at that moment that Schrödinger noticed the garbage cans. The
cans that are always emptied first thing in the morning were now, at noontime,
scattered at the edge of the driveway, left in typical disarray. But it was
not how they were left that caught his attention, but where. They were right
behind Cyanide's car.
His car must have already been there when the garbage truck came by hours
ago, Schrödinger realized, aware that he was now becoming enraged.
"Calm down," he told himself, "what if the garbage truck was late today,
and actually just came by a few minutes before I got here? That would mean
that nothing was going on...that maybe Mr. Cyanide just got here."
Schrödinger then realized the ridiculous position he had put himself
in. Sitting there in his car he now understood that the sanctity of his marriage,
his job, his self-esteem, and his future happiness were now undeniably dependent
upon whether the garbage trucks were on time or not. Without knowing when
the garbage was picked-up his beautiful Kat was, at that very moment, both
a faithful wife and an adulterous slut! Likewise, his boss, Mr. Cyanide, was
both a trusted boss and a fucking home wrecker! What to do? Such a monstrous
Schrödinger then made the smart move. He turned his car around and
drove back to town, where he checked into a motel for the night. There, away
from the temptation to storm into his house, his wife was once again faithful
and pure; his boss, loyal and respectful. And this was a good place to be.
He would come home tomorrow as scheduled and re-enter the happy, predictable
life that he knew awaited him.
So, Nick, this whole thought process led me to appreciate Schrödinger's
predicament and helped me understand the wisdom of all those people who live,
laugh, and love strictly in the macrorealm (which is exactly where I'll stay).
But just between us friends, and thanks to Schrödinger's experience,
we both now understand exactly what those handsome bosses and beautiful wives
and confounding particles are doing when we are not sneaking a peek into their
secret little micro world.
To this wise and perceptive piece of quantum logic by Dave
(just say "no" to the microworld) Fazo, should be added the following from
the physics point of view:
If Kat and Mr Cyanide manage their interactions in such a way as to LEAVE
NO RECORDS then from the quantum point of view to ask if they did it or not
is meaningless; whatever the two did, it is simply not describable in terms
humans would understand. It's much more complicated than "fucking"--it's fucking
and not fucking added together and one of them say multiplied by the square
root of minus one or some other complex number. Progress in science may soon
make it possible for humans to experience such unusual states (fucking plus
not-fucking) but it goes without saying that after it's over you won't remember
a thing (because of the prohibition on making records) nor will kitty Kat
David Fazo is a self-described "scientific layman", who sent this
thought experiment to Nick Herbert (physicist, poet, presidential candidate
and tantra gadfly, some of whose articles and poems have appeared in Southern
Cross Review), tapping into his quantum brain in the hope of receiving an
illuminating reply. "He did not let me down, even if his answer proved to
be, once again, a little frightening."
The editors of SCR are proud to be the first to present this revolutionary idea to the
scientific community in a language easily understandable by the educated --
perhaps even the uneducated -- public, in the knowledge that "Fazo's Kat"
will soon become famous as another meaningless contribution to the advancement